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The Founding

Obama's Bureaucracy Taxes Christmas UPDATE

The Department of Agriculture is instituting a $.15 tax on Christmas trees--which are actually called that and not some PC holiday shrub or greenery. 

In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board....And the program of "information" is to include efforts to "enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States" (7 CFR 1214.10).

To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52).  

May a government board promote Christmas?  Are we on our way to a state religion?  Or does the taxing of Christmas trees foretell the taxing of churches?  For a look at the founders' view of such matters (here noting the civil piety of Thanksgiving), see this additional commentary by Jefferson and this one by Washington.

UPDATE:  Rush reports that the board's fee (not a tax) has been withdrawn.  The fee is gathered from sellers so the board can come up with ways to help sellers market their product.

Categories > The Founding

Discussions - 5 Comments

Hey all you libs out there.

This is a separation of church and state issue. See the word Christmas has Christ in it. This is an all out assault on the Separation of Church and State by the government.

You need to get your tents, drugs, sleeping bags, signs and occupy some park somewhere and protest this assault on separation of church and state.

Go get 'em Liberal Occupiers....

Wait - I just woke up from a dream about Liberals doing the right thing.

(Didn't the update to the post kind of negate the whole point of it?)

I don't know, the post is already somewhat over the top, since the whole issue is deminimis and tagging Obama with anything that gets proposed or put into the CFR's would be mindnumbingly ridiculous. (around 150 pages a day).

I suppose the desire to pin things on Obama might incentivize someone paying a lawyer lobbyist to keep track of this and minus the "incentive" very little would pop unto the radar.

But if there is some marketing going on, then it is typical for the agency to impose a fee. The department of Agriculture for example is always promoting pork, which obviously works to undermine Islam and Judaism:) But if there is a reasonable fee, who is to say that that money wouldn't have just gone into another form of advertizing.

I am not sure if this is an official rule, but in some instances the reasoning is that if there is a fee then it is a wash of sorts in terms of promotion.

The government can work with religious schools as long as it charges them a reasonable fee(say for loaning out resources...or if it is an open forum for free)...this isn't promotion of religion.

It isn't giving the religious organization anything of value without receiving consideration in exchange.

In general if there is no fee (and it isn't an open forum) then it is more suspect.

Also there is nothing prohibiting a muslim, jew or budhist from being in the chistmas tree selling business.

HUSSEIN Obama won't be happy until we're all celebrating Ramalamadingdong or whatever it is them Arabs celebrate.

A friend sent me to the portion of the federal register devoted to this topic. It goes on for pages.

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5087590

What do you suppose it cost just to put that together? I think I would be happier if it were an elaborate joke. It wouls still offend me as a taxpayer.

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